SINGAPORE – Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC), Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Chan Chun Sing said that Asia’s continued economic success is only possible if the region remains peaceful, stable and conducive for trade and investment.
One of the key ways to ensure economic dynamism is to maintain a firm hold on the security of the maritime realm, he said.
“With more than half of the world’s oil supply passing through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, any disruption to the straits will affect the global economy, with direct implications on our region’s security and economic well-being, and I am sure it will also impact the rest of the world.
“It is therefore in our collective interest to ensure that key sea lines of communication remain open and secure,” he said.
In his opening address, Mr Chan highlighted the need for the international maritime community to proactively look for ways to strengthen mutual collaboration to respond to the complex and transnational maritime security challenges of today.
The challenges include maritime terrorism, piracy and territorial disputes, a well as non-traditional threats such as climate change, pandemics and natural disasters.
He also highlighted the increasing defence expenditures across Asia, coupled with the maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas, could lead to dangerous escalation and miscalculation.
“These potential flashpoints – if not well-managed – could destabilise the regional maritime environment and have grave consequences on the entire world,” he warned.
Hence, he underscored the importance of strengthening platforms for open and inclusive dialogue, maintaining open channels of communication, as well as the need to engage in practical cooperation in areas of shared security interest.
He said: “Bearing in mind the importance of collaboration in tackling maritime security threats, the IMSC will indeed serve as another useful platform to demonstrate the collective commitment of the international community to tackle maritime issues that could undermine regional peace and stability.”
The opening ceremony was held at the Changi Exhibition Centre this morning. Themed “Safe and Secure Seas – Strengthening Cooperation in Maritime Security”, this year’s conference saw seven speakers and some 350 participants, including navy and air force chiefs, coast guard directors-general and leading maritime academics.
They discussed the importance of ensuring the safety, security and success of the international maritime system, and the need to embrace a cooperative security approach to create critical capabilities to address a widening array of threats.
This year’s IMSC was jointly hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Experia Events Pte Ltd.
It is the third in the series and is held in conjunction with IMDEX Asia 2013.